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Community Radio in Colombia: Promoting Citizens’ Right to Information

Published 08/07/2013 by Global Communities

Community Radio in Colombia: Promoting Citizens’ Right to Information and Freedom of Expression
The Voices and Sounds of Montes de Maria is an award-winning community radio program produced by farmers from rural communities in the Montes de Maria region of northern Colombia. Rural and isolated, Montes de Maria region experienced some of the worst violence and massive population displacements during Colombia’s protracted internal conflict. Implemented under the USAID-funded Colombia Responde program, the radio initiative aims to rebuild the trust and participation of citizens in civil society that has been weakened after decades of conflict.
Through the initiative, radio production centers have been set up in 28 communities and residents trained to produce their own shows. Each community is responsible for determining and producing their own content, with community memebers acting as reporters, hosts and guests on the programs. The programs act as forums were residents can discuss pressing social and economic issues, share stories and experiences, and celebrate their culture and traditions.Through the process, communities have strengthened their links with other institutions by having public and private sector officials participate on the programs. The programs also act as platform for victims’ organizations (those affected by the ongoing internal conflict) by engaging civil society organizations and increasing their participation in media debates. 
Colombian news outlet, CM& Agenda recently visited communities in Montes de Maria to learn more about the radio production centers and how the program is helping empower residents to reclaim their fundamental right to expression.